The trip to Niagara Falls was R’s idea.

We’d go to Niagara a few days before Labor Day, and then spend the weekend with his extended family nearby in Canada.  I was terribly uninterested and hardly spoke as we took Z up to Skylon Tower and took the Maid of the Mist tour, complete with rain ponchos for your trip underneath the falls.

I should have been happy that R was trying to do something that would move us closer to each other again, but I had spent the last month so angry and so frustrated with him that I was beyond wanting an improvement.

The accusations had kept coming after our fateful fight in the computer room, and my resentment grew by leaps and bounds.  I’d never felt such lack of trust and it unnerved me; my parents had always had such great trust in me that I was unprepared for how to handle it.

Me being me, the end result of R’s behaviors had been to push me to even more questionable behavior.  My sister watched Z one Wednesday as Dawn and I drove to Pittsburgh and back in one day to go see Kyle Vincent open up for Bryan Adams.  He and I talked for hours after the line dissipated at the end of the autograph booth.   His vulnerability as he wistfully asked me if a crowd that size would ever show up for his name on the marquee made me feel needed.  His pride in my attendance at a show six hours from home made me feel wanted.  I liked that, and it was so diametrically opposed to the way I was feeling at home with R’s fear and mistrust that I didn’t flinch when he kissed me goodbye on the cheek.

Two weeks later, in the midst of R’s absence and silence, I dropped Zach off again on a Tuesday around noon for another road trip.   Summer was already counting down and this would be the last chance, I reasoned, to just go and see Kyle perform; the tour was nearly over.  New York City was a twelve hour or so drive from my home.  He was performing two shows, one at the World Trade Center.  If I was going to get accused of having an affair, I might as well at least enjoy some fun and good music along the way.  I felt independent and empowered as I walked up and down Broadway from Midtown to Gramercy Park, in a city I’d never been to before.  I looked up at the Towers and felt awe and inspiration as I watched Kyle sing underneath them.  I deserved more than what I was getting at home, I reasoned.  I drove home, savoring each decision I’d made alone.  I didn’t ‘have to be yelled at and accused all day long; I was a good person who could do whatever I put my mind to.   I tucked my wedding ring in my purse and readied myself for the rage that I would encounter when I returned.

And so two weeks later, after R had said his piece and I’d decided to stop arguing with him about it since he thought the worst of me anyway, I wasn’t entirely happy about trying to fix things up with a family trip to see his aunts and uncles.   But Z was excited about the idea, and I told myself that it was the right thing to do.

“What are you thinking about?” he asked as we drove towards Hamilton, Ontario, and away from the Falls.  We’d hardly said anything this morning so far to each other, allowing ourselves to just talk to Z about our trip and what had been his favorite thing so far.

Was it that obvious?  I was a million miles away.  I wasn’t here with either of them.  “The Secret Garden” by Bruce Springsteen was on the radio and I was listening to the words, thinking about finding someone that would admire my own secret garden instead of someone who ridiculed it.  “Nothing,” I answered, not even bothering to pull my eyes away from the window and the scenery flying by at 120 kilometers per hour.

I didn’t realize that his initiation of conversation was tantamount to an apology.  He took my rebuff as a rebuke of the olive branch he’d offered.

R pursed his lips and didn’t say anything else.


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